Tag Archives: experience

“I’m just going to call you ‘Lord’ because I don’t know what else to call you” How I came To Islam

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"the day you meet God, He is going to ask you about your sins and not about their sins. You will not be responsible for their actions and they will not be responsible or yours.”

“The day you meet God, He is going to ask you about your sins and not about their sins. You will not be responsible for their actions and they will not be responsible for yours.”

Guest post by: Jessenia Ortiz. She works as an editorial manager for a electronic publishing company. When she is not working she likes to spend time with her family, her 3yr old and her husband. Sister Jessie is pursuing hifdhs and spends most of her time memorizing the Quran. She enjoys traveling, and her last big trip was umrah. 

I read a novel entitled “If I should speak” by Umm Zakiyah. This book contains some ayahs of the Quran and Hadiths woven into the story. That novel led me to read the English translation of the Quran, which eventually led to me taking my shahada.

The author included the hadith that says:

“O evil soul, come out to the wrath and anger of Allaah.’ Then his soul disperses in his body and is dragged out like a skewer being pulled out of wet wool…”

This shook me to my core. For 3 days it was all I kept thinking about. I couldn’t believe my God could do something like that (although I did feel inside myself that it was true). After that, I told myself I have to find out what else is in that book, so started reading the Quran.

My journey towards “finding” Allah (the Arabic word for God) really started early around age 5. That was when my grandmother taught me how to pray.  I did include intermediaries in my prayers but I always wondered why I couldn’t pray to Allah directly. I never understood the 3 in 1 God. (Alhamdulillah).

I grew up going to Catholic school and attending church with my grandmother. I learned about the Prophets, perhaps because we were children we were not taught all the negative things that the Bible says about them. I still remember that when I was little, going to Catholic school, I wanted to grow up and be a nun. They seemed so close to Allah. I use to sit in church asking (God) Allah to help me love that religion, if it was the right one. I always wondered why do we say “Thank you God for your son our lord”; why not worship the one that created the “son”?

The first time I was exposed to Islam was actually in my global studies class in high school. Ironically, it was a Jewish teacher who told us about Islam. Alhamdulilah, he presented it clearly, he said Muslims face the Kabah 5 times a day and pray. He even told us how they prostrated on the floor to pray. I thought to myself, if there is anyway to pray to God that is the best way. Unbeknownst to me, while my teacher was telling us about Islam in school, my older sister was also learning about Islam. She would become Muslim that year; it would take me 13 more years to enter into Islam.

My sister did her best to explain Islam to me and in my mind I couldn’t see the difference from what I believed and what she believed. At that point, I had started praying to Allah directly. I still remember that I would say to Allah “I’m just going to call you ‘Lord’ because I don’t know what else to call you”.

As the years passed my sister and her husband would always try to give me dawah (invitation to Islam) but it always seemed that I would have to stop believing in all the prophets (peace be upon them) and believe in a new prophet–Muhammad (peace be upon him). I just couldn’t give them up. Yet, they tried their best but guidance is in the hands of Allah alone.

After some years my sister and her husband moved to MD and put their children in a school called Al Huda. When I asked them what the name of the school meant they said “guidance to the straight path.” After learning that, I always use to pray “Lord, guide me to the straight path“. It was during one of those visits to MD that I my oldest niece just gave me the new novel written by a sister from their community. She gave me the novel, and a copy of the Quran in English. She didn’t say much except “maybe you’ll find it interesting.” I read the novel and didn’t really feel connected, but when I got to hadith quoted within the story (sayings of the Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him) it all changed. While the story was from the imagination of the author, the Hadith and the Quranic ayat were real. In my heart felt “this is the truth” so it led me to read the Quran.

I, then, started reading the English translation of the Quran. It was amazing. I couldn’t put it down. I had tried to read the Bible but every time I tried, I kept falling asleep (literally on the book). As I read the meaning of the Quran it just confirmed what I already believed. The Quran told the stories for all the prophets and told the stories of the most upright men in history including Moses and Jesus (peace be upon them).

When I use to read ayat that refer to the disbelievers I use to wonder who those people where. My sister broke the news to me that I was the disbeliever. Finally, I was getting ready to say the shahada but I was still weary. It was a couple years after 9/11 and I just didn’t want to be associated with people who could do something like that. My sister gave me the best advice. She said “the day you meet God, He is going to ask you about your sins and not about their sins. You will not be responsible for their actions and they will not be responsible for yours.”

 I took my shahada on October 3, 2004. It was the same night that Muhammad Alshareef (founder of Al Maghrib Institute) gave his farewell speech at Al Huda school. I still remember him saying “There is only one way towards God. Sometimes you stumble upon the truth. You have a choice you can take it or you can dust yourself off and walk away”. I called my sister after the lecture was over and I took my shahada over the phone with the whole family.

When I look back I think, Subhannallah, Allah is the best of planners. He planned out my path so perfectly. There were and are so many tiny details along the way from before Islam up until now. I always make dua that Allah let keeps me on the straight path and never lets me go astray. Ameen.

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How I Came About Hijab #ProjectHijab

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Guest Post by: Bushra Rashid. Sister Bushra is currently a third year in undergrad as a Psychology major at the University of Texas at Austin. Her hobbies include reading and blogging with a goal to inspire others and bring them closer to Islam. Inshallah, she is planning on going to graduate school for Clinical Psychology and one day medical school. 

The fact that I would represent Islam intimidated and frightened me because what if I couldn’t live up to those expectations? What if I was not worthy yet? But I was, I am, and I always will be – I just had not realized it yet.

The fact that I would represent Islam intimidated and frightened me because what if I couldn’t live up to those expectations? What if I was not worthy yet? But I was, I am, and I always will be – I just had not realized it yet.

Assalamualaikum my few readers,

I really don’t know where to start. It is the 26th day of Ramadan, the month of forgiveness. I knew this Ramadan would be quite life changing for me a few months ago…

I had a friend, more like an older sister to me, who I could share anything with. She was really beautiful mA, probably one of the most beautiful women I will ever meet. When I was in 7th grade, she started wearing hijab. I saw so many people look at her in awe as her face glowed with so much Noor. She looked even more beautiful than she did before. I myself looked at her with so much inspiration, admiration, and most of all respect. Here was a 15 or 16 year old girl who had so much courage and love for Allah that she decided to cover her body and hair for His sake. And there started my interest and love for the hijab.

Years passed, high school came and went; my love for Allah always there, but a little drifted at the same time. A close Muslim friend of mine and I would talk about Islam sometimes, and I remember there was a day where we both said that we would start wearing hijab in college inshaaAllah, because even then we loved it. I then started college, away from my parents…alone, but not alone. I bought my first translation of the Quran – The Meaning of The Holy Quran in Today’s English by Yahiya Emerick. A wonderful translation, mashaaAllah, recommended to me by a good friend. I became more involved with MSA, I made new friends, and went to new places. The summer of 2012 after my first year in college, Ramadan came. That Ramadan, I guess it was after I had talked to my friends a lot about Islam and after I had done lots of research of my own, I began thinking about wearing hijab again, very seriously. I did not start covering right then because I felt as if I needed to make sure I wasn’t going through a phase, and that there were a lot of things I needed to fix about myself first – like praying five times a day. I would discuss hijab with a few close friends, who would always give me the utmost encouragement. I would watch them put on their hijabs, I would notice how they behave, and for some reason, sometimes when they would do something unexpected of a “perfect hijabi”, I would be glad because it would remind me – Hey, they’re only human. Hijab or no hijab, they should still be treated the same way. The fact that they even wear a hijab is what makes them beautiful. Wearing hijab shows that they want to be close to Allah, that they do it only for Allah’s sake. Just because you are hijabi, does not mean you won’t make mistakes. They are human, why should we expect more from them than we do a non-hijabi? I was afraid that wearing the hijab would make people expect so much of me. The fact that I would represent Islam intimidated and frightened me because what if I couldn’t live up to those expectations? What if I was not worthy yet? But I was, I am, and I always will be – I just had not realized it yet. One day, I was told by a wonderful friend to “just start hijab, and the rest will come along with it.” May Allah reward her for telling me that, because I think those are the words that pushed me the farthest towards hijab. As the busy year went by, Islam would still be discussed almost every day when we would get a break from school work. My heart began to want to be closer and closer to Allah. I would see other people start hijab and wish it was me. Alhamdulillah for those thoughts… Allah was bringing me closer to Him. I even made it my New Year’s resolution to start hijab in 2013. I began watching hijab tutorials, videos about hijab, and preparing my wardrobe. My appearance wasn’t a problem for me. What I was most afraid of was what people would think and how they would react. “Would they think I changed all of a sudden?” I had to trust in Allah and hope they wouldn’t. After my sophomore year of college was over and summer came, I felt like I didn’t accomplish too much. Yes, I had remembrance of Allah the majority of the time, but it didn’t show as much in my actions as I had wanted it to. But what stuck in my head was, “just start hijab, and the rest will come along with it.” So, I decided to start hijab this Ramadan, because not only is it the best time to start,  but it is what will push me closest to Allah. To be able to be reminded of Allah constantly by wearing hijab is a privilege I no longer wanted to miss out on. To be able to do something – solely for Allah’s love and for His sake – can only be perfect and can only make me better.

July 19, 2013, just one Ramadan after I started to seriously think about it, I began my life as a hijabi. And it feels amazing. Alhamdulillah, Alhamdulillah, Alhamdulillah! I told my mother I was going to start hijab, but she didn’t know exactly when. Alhamdulillah, she was very supportive. That day, I just put it on and went out without telling anyone for a few days that I actually started, not even my family. Then slowly, when I felt 100% ready to take on the challenges of hijab I began to tell people; family, close friends, and then Facebook friends.

I could have never taken this step without my amazing friends who remind me of Allah with their appearance, speech, and actions. I love you all for the sake of Allah, and I pray to Allah to be able to be with all of you in jannah. Please make dua for me.

My advice: If you’re thinking of hijab, make sure you do it with the sincere intention of doing it for Allah and for Him only. Don’t wait too long – who knows how many years, weeks, days, or even seconds we have left in the dunya. Aim for Akhira and pray that Allah guides you.

There will be another post soon about my first day and the different reactions I got. Please comment if you have questions and jazakallah khair for reading

You read more of Sister Bushra’s work at her personal blog here: http://bushrashid.wordpress.com

Necessary Accessories: Hijab And Medical School

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Necessary Accessories: What I learned In Medical School [<—This is the link]

Sister Nusheen Ameenuddin kindly shared with us a link to her article about the role of HIJAB while in medical school.

Many of us are students pursuing professional degrees in all different fields and we often wonder: how might wearing Hijab might affect our future plans?

Sister Nusheen shines light on her personal experience with Hijab. How she over came fears of hypocrisy and negative reactions by building a relationship with Allah (SWT) through Qur’an. And how her future career as a doctor played a role in the importance of her identity as a muslima. Please check out her article via google documents on the attached link!

JazakAllah khair to sister Nusheen for sharing this with us! May you be rewarded for all the hearts you strengthen! Aameen.

H&H

#ProjectHijabUpdate: THANK YOU!

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As salaamualaikum!

I hope everyone is having a most blessed Ramadan! Alhumdulilah our initiative started last Ramadan to inspire and support sisters who need help taking a step towards modesty continues to support many people. I truly hope you are all benefiting from #ProjectHijab as a means of support as you go through your personal journey of modesty; physically and spirtiually.

Since beginning the project the articles written by myself and dear friends have reached almost every country in the world! I am so happy to say there are thousands of views from US and UK but also France, Sweden, Qatar, Turkey, South Africa .. and 60+ countries around the world. It is safe to say that the topic of hijab and the  goal of modesty reaches a GLOBAL community.

Even since project Hijab the articles are viewed daily. Our goal was to help one person and insha Allah it seems that the series has reached many hearts.

The Project Hijab Series was also nominated for the Brass Crescent Awards last year and become a runner up, alongside several amazing Muslim blogs. This was a great honor for this series and all the efforts put into the series by various authors who took the time to share their personal experiences with you.

HandbagsandHijab is blog dedicated to spiritual growth in all it’s forms and for a young woman Hijab is definitely built into the growth whether your are just starting to adorn hijab or have been wearing it for years and years or if you have worn it multiple times, each story is different. Each day is test, a lesson, an experience and a blessing. When you choose modesty you are not choosing to hide yourself, but rather “reveal your dignity” and I suggest if you have not already, to take advantage of these lovely articles.

That being said this page is not exclusively about Hijab, and this Ramadan I will be sharing personal Reflections from Quran. I hope you can enjoy the upcoming series and share it with friends. It will be just as personal as #ProjectHijab was, only it will encompass topics including and beyond modesty.

If you are here exclusively for the #ProjectHijab articles, you can search them under “categories” and you will find them all arranged there.

JazakAllah khair for visiting this page. I genuinely hope you benefit and enjoy reading and share with family and friends!

May you all have a blessed Ramadan.

H&H

Hijab-A Way To Un-cover True Beauty #ProjectHIJAB

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Guest Post by: Dana Barakat. Dana loves poetry and expressing herself through writing. Dana has few hobbies which include piano and sketching. She is an outgoing, social, and smiley person who loves to make a someone’s day. You can read more of Dana’s insightful thoughts on her blog here: http://dana-barakat167.blogspot.com/2012/08/hijab-way-to-un-cover-true-beauty.html 

More than just covering your hair, it creates a ‘mental hijab’.

Because hijab means so much more to me and to women across the globe. Hijab is: strength, confidence, and the un-covering of the true beauty within.

What do pearls and diamonds have in common? They are both astoundingly beautiful and rare, and when found, they are protected and covered. Only the person who finds the precious pearl/diamond can appreciate the outer beauty and inner beauty.

So, who am I? I’m Dana Barakat and I recently put on hijab. No I’m not 16 or 18. I’m 22 years old. I graduated from college and I am continuing my Master’s insha’Allah. I’m also a person who thought that I’d never wear hijab, due to my personal preference, my love for my hair (literally, I was obsessed) and the thoughts that my parents would completely disapprove.

So how did I decide to put on hijab? I was thinking about it for some time, since January of this year. I wavered back and forth but I couldn’t bring myself to, as NIke says “Just DO It”. I was having a really rough and stressful time during May after graduation, and things were not going as planned. I was getting upset as well as how my faith and iman was also wavering. I wanted to improve, I wanted to become better. And so that is exactly what I asked  for. I made wuduu’, prayed two rak’aat, and then made a long and sincere duaa’ to Allah (swt). The exact words at the end that I said were “Ya Allah, help me to let me do an action that will benefit me, that will make me a better and stronger person. Let me do an action that will help me, that will guide me more towards You ya Allah!”

What happened next? Literally the next morning, on May 29th, 2012, I decided to buy a few hijabs from Nordstrom’s BP. I really had no hijabs at the time. I put it on in my carright after buying them, then went to the nearby park district, and sat down and thought long and hard about hijab. From that moment on, I knew I wasn’t just trying it on, I was going to keep on wearing it until the day I return to Him, insha’Allah.

But why wear hijab? Why didn’t I do this before? To wear hijab means to be a confident and strong women. You are then able to fully rely on your intellect and instead of depending on your outward appearance and how you look and what not, you start to rather use the inner beauty that you possess. So why now, why at 22? I believe I finally became ready and Allah (swt) was able to guide me to hijab, Alhamdullilah.

Hijab is more than covering your hair, as I mentioned. What is a mental hijab? A mental hijab is basically guarding yourself from things that are haram. Because you wear hijab, and I’m serious about this statement, you are reminded each day of Islam and that you ARE a Muslimah and that you have an obligation to do good each day. You never forget Islam the minute the hijab is put on and covering your hair. You become Noor (light) and others are attracted to it, if you are doing this for the sake of Allah (swt) alone and have pure intentions. A mental hijab is lowering your gaze, saying and only doing good, showing the world that Islam is about manners and righteous actions and not about anything else. A mental hijab is thinking and being in remembrance of Allah (swt) so often that you everything becomes so much more appreciated in life.

Hijab is beautiful. People may question, people may criticize, but in the end they come to respect you. When they talk to you, they are actually talking TO YOU. Not at your physicality. They understand that you are guarded only so that you can reveal what is important, and that is intellect and what is in the heart.

I didn’t do this alone, this was all by Allah’s will. Without Him, this post would not exist. And so now, as I am typing this, I thank You ya Allah for the blessings and mercy you have bestowed upon me. Make it easier for other girls/women who are thinking about hijab and let them understand what hijab means and its beauty. Ameen.

And to be completely honest, putting on the hijab was so easy that I was almost in disbelief. When you do this for His sake and His sake alone, you become unstoppable and confident and Alhamdullilah things become easier.

When you wear hijab, understand your duty to represent Islam. Understand how beautiful you are within and let that emanate from you. Understand that this is definitely a sacrifice worth doing. And last but not least, understand that there’s nothing but good that comes out of wearing hijab. Hijab is beauty, hijab is light and guidance, and hijab is a reminder. Alhamdullilah 3ala na3mayt 3al Islam and hijab.

My Life’s Greatest Teacher #ProjectHIJAB

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Guest post by: Sabina. Sabina is a university student with a lovely and engaging personality. Her interests include reading Islamic literature, volunteering at community centers and making people smile. She is very articulate and has a passion for words.

My hijab was the result of a clash between the conservative attitude of the Islamic school I attended and the not so conservative attitude at home. I say not so conservative, and not liberal, because my family is very adherent of all Islamic principles and beliefs, but they seem to make an exception only for the hijab. I believe it to be more of a cultural decision, where those who wear hijab are considered to be unable to acclimate. I attended that Islamic school from the age of five to eighteen. The hijab was around me constantly, but in those thirteen years, it did not capture my mind and heart until toward the very end.

I started wearing a scarf when I was ten years old. From that point on, there was always a scarf on my head. I did not start dressing according to Islamic guidelines until I was fourteen though. Yes, I loved my t-shirts. And yes, I was one of those girls who you see, and just stare at, because she is wearing a scarf with a t-shirt. This should be noted, however, as was written in the introductory post of the hijab project, everyone has their own struggles, and it is not of Muslim character to judge those that are struggling to please Allah. Funny thing is, I was really particular about my hair showing. Hijab was something I did because everyone around me did it. I did not understand it. I did not know why people wore it. All I knew was that we wore hijab because we were Muslim. And at the time, that was enough justification. I believe I became a true hijabi at the age of sixteen, when my hijab was in my heart, not on my head.

I started wearing hijab because my cousin, who was seventeen at the time, had decided to try it out. And, for the first time, I saw that aspect of my two worlds meshing together.  Unconsciously, it drove me to pursue whatever it would take to not live two lives; a life at school, where I looked like the perfect Muslim, but did not feel like myself, and a life at home, where I tried my best to be the perfect Muslim, but did not really look the part. Unfortunately, my cousin decided the hijab was not for her, and chose to stop wearing it. Which left me in a bind; what did that mean for me?

I chose to continue wearing my hijab, despite my family’s concerns about the Islamophobic era we lived in. My hijab allowed my two worlds to come together, and I went from a very introverted and insecure adolescent, to a strong Muslimah. My hijab became so much more when I realized the hijab means to care for yourself, to love yourself. The hijab is a personality that exudes confidence in oneself, but more importantly, confidence in the goodness Allah has bestowed within us. And, no one needs a piece of cloth on their head to allow others to feel that. I know so many sisters that do not wear a scarf, but they are much more the banner of Islam than hijabis. And, seeing as how I wore the hijab on more of a whim, than after careful research and reflection, I can see how that happens. I can see how the hijab is a way of identifying with Islam more than acceptance of oneself. But I also know that wearing the hijab, for me, was a learning process. My hijab taught me so much more than I could have ever imagined, and it became one of my life’s greatest teachers.

I believe I only realized what my hijab truly was when I was around nonMuslims. When I was with other girls who wore hijab, it became just a piece of cloth. I would forget the Islamic etiquette of interacting with people because I did not need to represent in front of those just like me. It did not stop me from making regrettable decisions, and acting like a complete fool. It was then, I realized, that if my hijab was not protecting my heart’s goodness, than it was not hijab at all. If my heart was only aware of my hijab when I was with nonMuslims, and turned on my “perfect Muslim mode” because I wanted them to love Islam, I was not representing Islam at all. I was trying to impress nonMuslims with an image of Islam, not the beautiful way of life I live. That was when I understood that hijab is nothing but Islam. Hijab is living life according to the Qur’an and Sunnah. It is about protecting and enriching the goodness Allah has given us all.

And this, I believe, is the most important piece of advice I could ever give to anyone. Hijab is protecting your personal goodness, from all sources of doubt and fear. Hijab is not wearing a scarf, or wearing long and loose clothing, or being the salaah police, or going to Islamic lectures. Hijab is not about being the perfect Muslim, or always doing the right thing. Once you attain that love for yourself and importance for that sacred goodness, hijab becomes about becoming closer to Allah. And simply putting a scarf on your head, after conquering yourself, seems simple.

I’m As Sweet As Can Be, Oh Allah Make Hijab Easy For Me! #ProjectHIJAB

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Guest Post By: Aamina Aslam, a university student studying science, Aamina began her hijab journey two years ago. Aamina enjoys a multitude of hobbies which includes piano and composing music, playing sports and having fun with friends. She is known for her iconic hijab-wrap styles.  

When I first started wearing the hijab, it was my freshman year in college, It wasn’t really something I started to do on my own but, rather, my mom’s urging. So I agreed to wear it because I knew it was a good thing. It being the first year of college, a new chapter in my life, also helped me begin to wear the hijab. It was going to be a fresh start and, for me, it was not going to be very difficult because I knew that there were already going to be other hijabis at my college, namely my best friend (who also happens to be the creator of this awesome blog!!). Basically, the moral support was already there. My hijab transition went very smoothly and I haven’t had any major difficulties with it since. Well, besides those inevitable bad hijab days that like to surprise attack me now and then, my hijab experience so far is going quite lovely, alhumdulillah (2 years baby!)

My advice to potential hijabis would be, if you’re having difficulty starting, take it slow. The summer before I started to wear hijab, I would practice wearing it to random places so that when school finally came around, I knew I would be ready to wear it full-time.

Each year, I’ve grown more and more comfortable wearing my hijab and it has become a part of my identity. My favorite reason to wear it is so that I can be an example to Muslims and especially non-Muslims. Wearing my hijab is a dead giveaway to non-Muslims that I am a Muslim, so I feel that if they see me being the nice person that I am, it will give a good image about the beauty of what Islam really is rather than the deceitful lies generated by the media.
Well, I guess my time is up. If my story or advice inspires at lease one person today, that’s enough for me